It does not go by so fast. People who tell you “it goes by so fast” do not have babies or small children at home. It goes by so slow. But you know what? That’s good! There’s more room for error! Be grateful.
They’re up all night to get lucky. Because their stomachs are so small, newborns need to eat roughly every 2-3 hours. This means they wake frequently. This means they wake you frequently. Thankfully, babies do have some good qualities: they smell good, don’t cheat on their taxes, and look good in hats.
Sleep deprivation is the worst. It’s awful. It’s revolting. It causes confusion and memory loss. And it physically hurts. It’s like a really bad subway smell on a hot day – but in your brain. That said, blame everything and anything on sleep deprivation for as long as you possibly want.
The phrase ‘maternal instinct’ stinks. Here’s a quote from a popular website, “Once you give birth… feelings you never expected to have will surface as part of the process of becoming a parent.” Once you give birth, feelings you never expected magically surface? Is a switch flipped during delivery? And what if you’re a new parent who didn’t give birth? Does this mean you’re screwed? No. Sorry. Maternal instinct is, literally, for the birds. If you bond right away, terrific. If it takes much longer, so be it. Either way, you’ll still probably have to pay for the wedding one day.
Hold your baby as much as you damn want. You can’t spoil babies. You can, however, spoil teenagers. “My Super Sweet 16” is proof of that.
Breast is best but… Is there anyone reading this who doesn’t know, by now, that breast is best? We get it. We’ve heard. Breast milk rocks. There is no chemical composition available that can ever replicate what we lucky women can make ourselves, any time we want, for free. But even though it looks ridiculously easy when other people do it, breastfeeding is not ridiculously easy. So please be prepared and be patient. Breastfeeding can be difficult at first. And at second. And at third. It can take a lot of effort and practice and help to get it right. And sometimes breastfeeding doesn’t work out. Or it doesn’t work out for long. And - newsflash for some of you reading this! - it’s okay.
It’s called childREARing for a reason. It’s unbelievable how often babies can poop, especially since they don’t even drink coffee. The frequency or color of babycrap ® (yes, that’s a registered trademark) doesn’t really matter. As long as the stool’s soft, not black or white, and blood as well as mucus-free, there’s nothing to freak out about. Well, there are things to freak out about – global warming, for example – but not your baby’s poop.
Get out. Babies are small. This works to your advantage in so many ways. First, it would be hard to give birth to one if they were big. Second, it makes diaper changing easier. And third, it means that babies are portable so you can take them almost anywhere. Yes, even to a bar.
Get support. This is important for your boobs and this is important for you. Seriously a) you’re going to need some good bras whether you’re nursing or not and b) you’re going to need some good people with whom to talk, lean on, and commiserate. Join a new parents’ group or class as soon as you can because – don’t forget! – your baby is portable.
Get help. Ten to twenty percent of new mothers suffer from postpartum depression or anxiety. Ten to twenty percent. It’s so common. Why don’t we talk about this more? If you’re reading this and feel you might have symptoms of depression or anxiety, please don’t feel alone – because you’re not. If you feel depressed, overanxious, overwhelmed or are worried that you may have trouble taking care of yourself and your baby, call your doctor or reach out to a loved one right away.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. Do you love your baby? Are you doing the best you can? Has anyone contacted the authorities? If you can answer “yes,” “yes” and “no” then pat yourself on the back because it’s going well so far!
(That’s all I’ve got for this year. See you in 2014. Not literally. But you know… Happy New Year!)